OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 146, 28 July 1995
YELTSIN PROPOSES NEW BOSNIAN PEACE PLAN.
In a response to NATO threats
against the Bosnian Serbs, President Boris Yeltsin has sent a new Bosnian peace
proposal to members of the Contact Group, Interfax reported on 28 July. The
plan calls for direct talks between both sides in the conflict, after which UN
sanctions against Serbia would be lifted, and rump Yugoslavia would recognize
Bosnia in exchange. Western officials quoted by AFP described the plan as "not
very realistic." Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, speaking in Hanoi,
criticized the recent U.S. Senate vote to unilaterally lift the UN arms embargo
against the Bosnian government, which he said is "totally incomprehensible." A
Foreign Ministry spokesman later criticized UN Secretary General Boutros
Boutros Ghali's decision to simplify the procedures for authorizing NATO air
strikes in support of UN peacekeepers, saying that additional air strikes would
only "lead to an escalation of violence." -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
FEDERATION COUNCIL APPROVES LAW ON ITS FORMATION.
With 90 votes, the
minimum necessary, the Federation Council approved a law on electing future
members on the basis of candidates nominated by local executive and legislative
branches, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 July. The results were initially thrown into
doubt after being announced because five deputies wanted to change their vote.
However, their objections were eventually overruled. Yelena Mizulina, the
chairwoman of the Committee on Constitutional Legislation, pointed out that the
law, already passed by the Duma, would have automatically come into effect in
any case because the Federation Council's time limit for examining it expired
on 22 July. The Federation Council speaker repeated on 26 July that Yeltsin
would veto the law on the grounds that the constitution describes the
"formation" of the Council rather than its "election," Russian TV reported. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
LAPTEV PROMISES FINANCIAL HELP FOR PRESS AND PUBLISHERS.
the newly appointed State Press Committee chairman, told ITAR-TASS on 27 July
his main objective is to lead newspapers and publishing houses out of the
current financial crisis. He said Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin had
personally promised him that the 1996 budget would allocate 1.5 trillion rubles
to the press committee. Laptev said he is especially worried about the state of
book publishing in Russia. Laptev is the sixth press committee chairman since
1991. In appointing him, the government sought to replace the controversial
Sergei Gryzunov with a more "loyal" figure, according to Segodnya on 27
July. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
MINISTER: STATE-OWNED RADIO AND TV COMPANIES IN DEBT.
Minister Vladimir Bulgak announced that state-owned radio and television
enterprises owe more than 500 billion rubles ($113 million) to communications
companies, especially those which service and maintain technical facilities for
radio and television broadcasting, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 July. According to
Economics Ministry forecasts, 73 out of 191 enterprises in the communications
sector will finish this year in debt, in large part due to non-payments by the
users of communications services. However, Bulgak noted that the
privately-owned network NTV and the partly-private Russian Public TV company
(ORT) had practically no debts. ORT, which is 51% state-owned, took over
Channel 1 broadcasting from fully state-owned Ostankino on 1 April as part of a
controversial restructuring plan. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
YAKUTIYA PRESIDENT SEEKS TO EXTEND HIS TERM.
The Yakutiya president's
Public Consultative Council has recommended that the legislative and executive
branches consider extending the term of the current incumbent Mikhail Nikolaev,
Segodnya reported on 27 July. If the proposal is supported, a popular
referendum on the issue could be held as early as December. The Yakutiya
legislature is expected to go along with the idea since Nikolaev earlier
yielded to the deputies' pressure to hold elections for heads of local
administrations. The opposition has complained that Nikolaev is turning his
rule into a monarchy. Nikolaev was elected to office on 20 December 1991. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
MOSCOW SHIFTS POSTURE AGAIN IN GROZNY TALKS.
In Moscow, backtracking
from statements made yesterday, Russian Minister for Nationalities Vyacheslav
Mikhailov, who heads the Russian delegation to the Grozny talks, told
journalists that he will propose the signing of two agreements--one military
and one political--when talks resume on 29 July. He added that the Russian
position "remains unchanged," adding that it would be impossible "to separate
the military and political problems." Izvestiya commented on 28 July
that divisions among the Chechen leadership are hindering the negotiations and
may ultimately block a negotiated settlement. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
INVESTIGATORS SAY WRITING IN BLOOD NOT A TERRORIST MESSAGE.
A murder was
reported by Interfax on 19 July in the town of Budennovsk, after which the
victim's blood had been used to paint the words "Freedom and Independence to
Chechnya" on the walls. The city had been the subject of the attack by a group
of Chechen gunmen led by Shamil Basaev on 14 June. The press department of the
Stavropol Procurator's Office told ITAR-TASS on 27 July that a murder committed
there last week was not an act of terrorism but rather the result of a drunken
fight, ITAR-TASS reported on the same day. The police now say the words were
meant to mislead investigators. Four people have been accused of the murder,
but all of them are inhabitants of the Budennovsk region and none of them have
any relation or contact with Basaev. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.
CANNIBAL PRISONERS SENTENCED.
One of the prisoners who ate his cell-mate
was given the death penalty today, while the other was sentenced to 15 years in
prison, ITAR-TASS reported. The trial, which took place in the city of
Rubtsovsk, ended on 27 July, one year after the two prisoners killed and ate
their cell-mate (see OMRI Daily Digest, 10 July 1995). Aleksei Maslich,
23, who has already served time on three counts of murder was sentenced to
death by firing squad. Aleksei Goluzov, 26, will spend his first four years in
prison and the rest in a strict-regime work colony. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI,
NUCLEAR CENTER WORKERS ASK FOR VETERAN STATUS.
Civilians who conducted
experiments with nuclear weapons at the Russian Federal Nuclear Center, Arzamas
16, have turned to the president, prime minister, and the minister of atomic
energy to ask for benefits usually reserved for soldiers and war veterans,
ITAR-TASS reported on July 27. When they established the center in 1946, no one
had clear ideas about safety procedures at nuclear facilities. -- Alaina Lemon,
RUSSIA TO KEEP BASE IN VIETNAM.
Russia will keep its "logistical base"
at Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam at least until the Vietnamese-USSR base agreement
expires in 2004, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 July from Hanoi. Deputy Foreign
Minister Aleksandr Panov, who is accompanying Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev
to Vietnam, added that the two sides "expressed interest" in maintaining the
base after 2004. On 26 July, Interfax quoted Foreign Ministry official Viktor
Ivanov as saying the agreement allows the Russians free use of the facility. He
said the Vietnamese are not asking the Russians to withdraw from Cam Ranh but
want them to pay rent. Ivanov did not rule out future joint use of the base.
ITAR-TASS noted that the Russian military presence at Cam Ranh Bay is
one-quarter of what it was in the Soviet period. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN SPACE BOOSTER UNVEILED IN U.S.
A U.S. company unveiled what it
called "the most technically advanced Russian rocket engine to enter the United
States" on 26 July. A Pratt & Whitney Space Propulsion Operations press
release said it had received the RD-120 rocket engine from the Energomash
Scientific and Production Association in Khimki and planned to test the engine
using live fire later this year. The two companies have signed a statement of
intent to form a joint venture to develop a version of the RD-120 for
commercial use worldwide to send satellites into low earth orbit. The new
boosters will be manufactured in Russia and Ukraine. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI,
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 146, 28 July 1995
RUSSIANS SENDING MILITARY EXPERTS TO TRAIN TAJIK ARMY.
Russia will send
military experts to oversee the training of the Tajik army, a spokesman for the
Federation Council's committee that deals with the CIS told ITAR-TASS on 27
July. He added that the military advisers would not participate in combat. The
move is in keeping with an agreement signed in May 1993 between Russia and
Tajikistan on providing the Tajik army with combat training. It could be seen
as a first step toward decreasing the role of Russia' troops in Tajikistan, who
make up the vast majority of the 25,000-man peacekeeping force guarding the
Tajik-Afghan border. Ever since Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said in
April that "an independent state must use its own troops to resolve local
conflicts," the governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan have said
they may pull their troops out of Tajikistan citing the lack of progress in
peace negotiations. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
CABINET RESHUFFLE IN ARMENIA.
Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan
has appointed new economic and information ministers and created several new
portfolios, Reuters reported on 27 April. Citing a decree published in the
official media the same day, the agency noted that state departments were
transformed into ministries and some ministries were merged. According to the
decree, Andranik Andreasyan is the new economy minister and Grach Tarmazyan
takes over the Information Ministry. Other notable changes include the creation
of portfolios for the CIS, European Union, and international economic
organizations. Two new ministries will handle relations with parliament and
territorial management. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
WAR IN CHECHNYA HITS AZERBAIJAN'S ECONOMY.
According to figures released
by Azerbaijan's state statistics committee, the republic's economy declined
rapidly in the first half of this year. Azerbaijan's industrial output fell by
27% compared with the same period last year and average daily productivity is
down by 26.5%, AFP reported on 27 July, citing Turan. Output fell in all
industrial sectors except in the chemical and petrochemical industries, where
it rose by 12.5%. Exports compared to the same period last year fell by 41.8%
and imports by 45% the agency reported. An Azerbaijani Economy Ministry
official said the decline was largely due to the Chechen war which disrupted
Azerbaijan's transport links. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
KUCHMA IN BAKU.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma arrived in Baku on a
two-day state visit on 27 July to hold talks with Azerbaijani President Heidar
Aliyev on strengthening bilateral economic relations, Western and Russian
agencies reported. Kuchma will also meet with representatives of the
international consortium involved in extracting crude oil from Azerbaijan's
sector of the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan is interested in Ukrainian industrial
products, notably military hardware, metallurgical goods, aircraft, and ships
-- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
UZBEKISTAN AND RUSSIA TIE THE KNOT.
As widely expected, more than a
dozen bilateral agreements tightening economic ties between Russia and
Uzbekistan were signed in Tashkent during the state visit by Russian Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Western and Russian media reported on 27 July.
Among other results of the talks, Uzbekistan announced it will join the
emerging CIS customs union and the two sides agreed to a two-year economic
cooperation guideline. Uzbek President Islam Karimov has pledged to repay his
republic's $90 million debt to Russia by the year 2000; Russia, which owes
Uzbekistan $189 million, has also committed itself to debt repayment. Karimov
stated that "Russia is a guarantor of stability and peace in the Central Asian
region." Following on the heels of Russia's wide-ranging agreements with
Turkmenistan in May, Chernomyrdin's visit to Uzbekistan signals the commitment
of both sides to reintegrationist approaches to shared economic and political
problems; it also suggests that Tashkent is willing to accept Moscow's
determination to regain influence in the region. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI,
UKRAINE ON RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN NEGOTIATIONS.
Following his visit to
Moscow, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk said that relations with Russia
must not only focus on the Black Sea Fleet but also on economic issues,
Ukrainian radio reported on 27 July. During the visit, four agreements were
signed, the most important being on the creation of financial-industrial
groups. Marchuk defended that agreement, saying it does not infringe on the
country's interests or contravene its laws. The issue of Ukraine's gas debt was
also raised. Marchuk said the country owes Russia over $1 billion for gas for
1995. The debts for 1993 ($2.5 billion) and 1994 ($1.5 billion) have been
restructured and will be repaid over 13 years. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 146, 28 July 1995
UPDATE ON POLISH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
The latest survey on Polish
presidential preferences puts Democratic Left Alliance leader Aleksander
Kwasniewski well out in front, with 23% support. He is followed by President
Lech Walesa (14%), National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz (12%), Civil
Rights Spokesman Tadeusz Zielinski (11%), and former Labor Minister Jacek Kuron
(10%). The Center for Public Opinion Research survey was conducted in mid-July
and reported by Gazeta Wyborcza on 28 July. Kwasniewski has a
comfortable lead in all opinion surveys, but competing polling organizations
give slightly different rankings for the other candidates. -- Louisa Vinton,
POLISH BANKING CHIEF TALKS TOUGH.
Polish National Bank President Hanna
Gronkiewicz-Waltz on 26 July told reporters that she will not resign if, as now
appears almost certain, she decides to run for president. Gronkiewicz-Waltz was
responding to a report in that day's Zycie Warszawy that President Lech
Walesa has sounded out the ruling coalition about having her removed from
office. Walesa originally nominated Gronkiewicz-Waltz to the banking post but
now clearly resents her presidential ambitions. In a veiled reference to the
ruling coalition, Gronkiewicz-Waltz also accused "certain political forces" of
attempting to limit the central bank's supervisory rights in order to conceal
improper lending practices in certain banks. The government is now drafting
revisions to the banking law. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH MILITARY FACES SCRUTINY.
The armed forces are facing renewed
criticism following the crash of an Su-22 fighter-bomber on 26 July and the
mysterious theft of arms from a Warsaw army base on 21 July. The crash, the
fourth this year involving an Su-22 plane, occurred when a bomb exploded during
a test flight. Officials cited technical failures, but Defense Minister
Zbigniew Okonski conceded that funding shortages have drastically limited
flight time for Polish pilots. US pilots fly an average of 250 hours per year,
whereas Poles fly only 60, Rzeczpospolita reported. The second incident,
in which Russian-speaking, Kalashnikov-wielding thieves absconded with 75
pistols and ammunition from a virtually unguarded base, has raised questions
about military security. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
INDEPENDENCE DAY DEMONSTRATIONS IN BELARUS.
Police in Belarus broke up
an Independence Day demonstration in Minsk on 27 July and detained a number of
demonstrators, Reuters reported. Several dozen people gathered at Independence
Square where demonstrations are prohibited. Five to eight were carrying the red
and white Belarusian flag, which was recently replaced by the Soviet-era flag
minus hammer and sickle. The flag bearers were briefly detained by the police.
The opposition has criticized the police action, saying it showed that Belarus
has reverted to a Soviet-era police state. Opposition deputy Syarhei Naumchik
said the country now flies the Soviet flag and has an undemocratic leadership
that listens only to Moscow, just as it did before independence. -- Ustina
Markus, OMRI, Inc.
RECORD ESTONIAN TRADE DEFICIT IN JUNE.
Customs Department officials
announced that Estonia's foreign trade deficit in June reached a record monthly
high of 1.032 billion kroons ($93 million), BNS reported on 27 July. Estonia
exported goods worth 1.877 billion kroons but imported goods worth 2.909
billion. The major contributor to the trade gap was the increase by 294 million
kroons in the import of jewels and precious metals, largely because of a single
consignment of polished gems temporarily brought into the country from Germany.
As a result of this shipment, Germany replaced Russia as the second-largest
exporter to Estonia. Finland remained in first place for both imports and
exports. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
LATVIAN COMMUNIST LEADER SENTENCED TO EIGHT YEARS.
The Latvian Supreme
Court on 27 July sentenced Alfreds Rubiks, first secretary of the Latvian
Communist Party from 1990-1991, to eight years in prison for conspiring to
overthrow the government during the failed coup against Mikhail Gorbachev in
August 1991, Western agencies reported. Rubiks thus became the only
high-ranking communist official in the entire former Soviet Union to be tried
and convicted for backing the coup. He was arrested on 23 August 1991, and his
trial began in June 1993. Although imprisoned, he was elected to the Saeima but
not allowed to take up his seat. His co-defendant, former communist party
secretary Ojars Potreki, was given a three-year suspended sentence. -- Saulius
Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
IMF URGES STRICTER CONTROL OVER LITHUANIA'S COMMERCIAL BANKS.
final meeting on 26 July with Lithuanian Finance Minister Reinoldijus Sarkinas
and Bank of Lithuania officials, an IMF mission, headed by Julian Berengaut,
advised the bank to carry out stricter inspections of commercial banks and not
to rely on the audits they submit, BNS reported the next day. The mission
suggested that in state-run commercial banks, the government guarantee only a
specified average deposit. Berengaut viewed favorably the government's efforts
to improve tax collection but advised cuts in spending to meet revenue targets.
-- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
CZECHS STILL OPPOSE DIALOGUE WITH SUDETEN GERMANS.
A majority of Czechs
still oppose a formal dialogue with Sudeten Germans, according to an opinion
poll conducted by the Institute for Public Opinion Research and published in
Rude pravo on 28 July. Thirty-one percent of respondents said they were
definitely against any talks and the same number were "rather against." These
responses were almost exactly the same as in a similar poll two years ago,
despite an extensive public debate on the subject over the past six months.
Only 23% of respondents in the 1995 poll were in favor of a dialogue that might
lead to a resolution of the issue; of those, one-third said they were
supporters of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party. The
greatest opposition came from residents of northern Bohemia, part of the
Sudetenland handed over to Germany in 1938 and from which 3 million Sudeten
Germans were expelled after World War II. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK PRESIDENT VETOES PRIVATIZATION AMENDMENTS.
Michal Kovac on 27
July returned amendments to the privatization law to the parliament for further
discussion, calling them "unconstitutional," Narodna obroda reported.
The legislation, passed in mid-July, cancels the coupon privatization program
drawn up by the previous government and establishes a new privatization concept
based on bonds. The president has not yet received the official texts of other
economic legislation approved at the same parliamentary session, but he is
expected to veto those laws as well. The opposition Democratic Union on 27 July
criticized the cabinet for passing legislation that contradicts its program
declaration. Opposition Social Democratic Party Chairman Jaroslav Weiss the
previous day warned that the coalition parties will collect the 30 signatures
needed to call an extraordinary parliamentary session in August in order to
pass the legislation again. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK CABINET CRITICIZED OVER ROMA ATTACKS.
Hungarian Civic Party
Chairman Laszlo Nagy on 27 July expressed regret that the Slovak government has
not taken a stand on the recent attacks on Roma by skinheads in Ziar nad Hronom
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 July 1995). Nagy argued that the current
government "is neither able nor willing to seriously oppose such undesirable
acts." He singled out the Slovak National Party, which, he said, "encourages
such hatred" through some of its statements, Sme reported. A local
police official told Sme that two youths are currently under
investigation in connection with the attacks but that the charges have not yet
been classified as attempted murder. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
MEETING IN HUNGARY ON RIGHTS OF ETHNIC HUNGARIANS ABROAD.
Association of Hungarians organized a meeting on 27 July in the Hungarian town
of Debrecen supporting unrestricted mother-tongue use for Hungarian minorities
in Romania, Slovakia, and Serbia, international media reported. Sandor Csoori
of the WAH stressed that whoever questions nationality schools and equal rights
for minority languages "is attacking universal human values." Coexistence
Chairman Miklos Duray, who was the only leader of Slovakia's Hungarian
coalition to attend the gathering, criticized the current Slovak government for
its efforts "to eradicate our language." The Slovak cabinet was criticized in
particular for its draft law on the state language and plans to implement
"alternative" (bilingual) education. The meeting was attended by several
representatives of the Hungarian parliament and broadcast live on Hungarian
satellite television. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
REACTIONS IN ROMANIA TO DEBRECEN MEETING.
Bela Marko, leader of the
Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), took the opportunity to call
the recently adopted Romanian education law "cultural genocide" against ethnic
Magyars, Radio Bucharest reported. UDMR Honorary Chairman Laszlo Tokes was
quoted as saying that Romania is currently "waging a war against the Hungarian
language." Traian Chebeleu, a spokesman for Romanian President Ion Iliescu,
said the accusations of the UDMR leaders were "totally groundless" and part of
a disinformation campaign aimed at damaging Romania's image abroad. Iliescu
later said that the Debrecen meeting was feeding "primitive, extremist, and
nationalist feelings." -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 146, 28 July 1995
MAZOWIECKI BLASTS INTERNATIONAL "HYPOCRISY" OVER BOSNIA.
Prime Minister and Solidarity-era human rights activist Tadeusz Mazowiecki has
released the text of the letter in which he resigned as UN special rapporteur
for human rights in the former Yugoslavia on 27 July. He stressed that the UN's
failure to defend Srebrenica and Zepa prompted his move. "One cannot speak
about the protection of human rights with credibility when one is confronted
with the lack of consistency and courage displayed by the international
community and its leaders," the International Herald Tribune on 28 July
quoted him as saying. He added that the "very stability of international order
and the principle of civilization is at stake over the question of Bosnia." --
Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
SERBS SHELL MOSTAR, SARAJEVO.
International media on 27 July reported
that two people died in Serbian attacks on the Bosnian capital. Habena, the
Herzegovinian Croat news agency, said that the Serbs fired on Mostar as well.
AFP on 28 July quoted Auxiliary Bishop of Sarajevo Pero Sudar as calling on the
West to end the conflict by destroying Serbian weapons, ammunition, and
military infrastructure. "We must not hit them to kill them but hit them to
make them understand that killing others is not allowed," Sudar said. Bosnian
government sources reported that the Serbs were preventing 600 civilians from
leaving Zepa by blockading their convoy at a checkpoint. In Srebrenica,
retreating Dutch peacekeepers reportedly abandoned much of their military
equipment to the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
SITUATION AROUND BIHAC REMAINS TENSE.
As Krajina and Bosnian Serbs,
together with Muslim renegades, press their attack on the Bihac pocket and
ultimately on the smaller "safe area" itself, the UN has hit on a way to
"separate the warring parties." UNCRO's Canadian command wants to interpose its
men on the border between Croatia and Bosnia, which the Croatian government has
wanted for over three and a half years. "The conditions of war exist now,"
Canadian Colonel Norris Pettis said in Zagreb. "The plan is to move as quickly
as possible to deter an outbreak of hostilities," AFP quoted him as saying on
27 July. The UN reported that 5,000 Serbian refugees are fleeing before the
Croatian advance. In the northwest, where the Serbs are attacking, the UN
reported 1,000 detonations in one hour alone on 28 July. Elsewhere, the Krajina
Serbs' "parliament" has elected a new government headed by prominent hard-liner
Milan Babic. The cabinet includes 16 holdovers from the previous one, as a
concession to backers of deposed Prime Minister Borislav Mikelic. -- Patrick
Moore, OMRI, Inc.
REACTIONS TO SENATE VOTE TO LIFT BOSNIAN ARMS EMBARGO.
Clinton is at pains to portray the decisive Senate ballot not as a rebuke to
him but to the UN for failing to protect Srebrenica and Zepa. The VOA reported
on his 27 July press conference at which he stressed this message. Russia,
France, the U.K., and various West European politicians have condemned the
vote, with British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind calling it "bizarre."
International media also noted that the Senate move was warmly welcomed
throughout the Muslim world, notably by Turkey and Egypt. In Islamic countries,
the belief is widespread that the West would never have tolerated the Serbian
atrocities in Bosnia if they had been carried out against Christians or Jews
rather than Muslims. (See related item in Russian section) -- Patrick Moore,
SERBIAN OPPOSITION THREATENS WALKOUT.
Serbian opposition deputies on 27
July agreed to boycott the republican parliament if the ruling Socialist Party
of Serbia's decision to halt live television coverage of the legislature
remains in force, BETA reported the same day. The decision was handed down on
26 July, evidently in response to an incident that day in which a member of the
ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) assaulted a journalist from Radio
and Television Serbia in the parliament, Nasa Borba reported. SRS
deputies, including party leader and accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj, have
been involved over the past year in a series of assaults and near-brawls in the
parliament. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN, SLOVAK PREMIERS ON ETHNIC MINORITIES.
Slovak Prime Minister
Vladimir Meciar, speaking at the end of his two-day official visit to
Bucharest, said his country is respecting individual rights of citizens
belonging to ethnic minorities. He added that the Council of Europe's
Recommendation No. 1201 should not be interpreted as recognizing collective
rights for minorities. He also said he hopes that the terms of the future
Romanian-Hungarian treaty will be "better" than those of the Slovak-Hungarian
one. Romania's treatment of its Slovak minority shows that Romania "promotes a
correct minority policy," he noted. Romanian Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu said that
his country will not agree to including claims for collective minority rights
and territorial autonomy in its treaty with Hungary. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI,
BULGARIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS UPDATE.
Bulgarian newspapers on 28 July
reported that after meeting with representatives of all caucuses on 26 and 27
July, President Zhelyu Zhelev has still not set a date for the local elections.
They stated, however, that the elections will be held sometime in October. The
opposition favors a date in late October, while the Bulgarian Socialist Party
wants the elections to take place as early as possible. The Union of Democratic
Forces (SDS) will ask the Constitutional Court to review certain parts of the
local elections law that it considers unconstitutional, Demokratsiya
reported. Other media say Zhelev will do the same. Meanwhile, the national
leaderships of the SDS, the People's Union, and the ethnic Turkish Movement for
Rights and Freedom met on 27 July to discuss choosing a common mayoral
candidate for Sofia. No agreement was reached, however. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI,
BULGARIAN TV BOSS SACKS TOP EXECUTIVES.
Ivan Granitski, director-general
of Bulgarian National TV (BNT), on 27 July fired a number of top officials,
Standart reported the following day. Among them were BNT
Executive-Director Kiril Gotsev and the heads of the two state TV channels.
Granitski also dismissed four members of the board of directors. Parliamentary
Chairman Blagovest Sendov ordered Granitski to return from a business trip to
Moscow to explain the dismissals to the parliament's media commission, but the
TV chief was apparently unable to do so. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
ARSIDI TRIAL ENDS IN TIRANA.
An Albanian court has sentenced former
central bank governor Ilir Hoti to six years in prison and three former
directors of Albania's National Commercial Bank--Adrian Xhyheri, Agim Tartari,
and Agron Saliu--to between four and seven years, Reuters reported on 27 July.
Hoti and Xhyheri paid $1.6 million to the French citizen Nikolla Arsidi to
negotiate Albania's foreign debts in 1991, but the negotiations never took
place. The two men were found guilty of abuse of office for causing the state
to lose 63 million leks ($630,000). Saliu and Tartari each accepted $160,000 in
bribes, which they deposited in a Luxembourg bank. The court ruled that former
Prime Minister Vilson Ahmeti, who had been accused of abuse of office for
signing the authorization for Arsidi, was innocent. The prosecutor had demanded
longer jail sentences and said he would appeal. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIA RESTRUCTURES FOREIGN DEBT.
Albanian Finance Minister Dylber
Vrioni and Albania's creditors have agreed to cut the country's foreign debt
and restructure the remainder. Commercial debts will be reduced from $500
million to $100 million. Banks now may swap their debts for 20% of the face
value of the debt or exchange them at 100% of the face value for 30-year bonds
without interest. The principle is backed by Zero-coupon 30-year U.S. Treasury
bonds, which the Albanian government will buy in August, international agencies
reported on 27 July. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
CLAES, GREECE CRITICIZE SENATE VOTE ON LIFTING BOSNIAN ARMS EMBARGO.
Following the U.S. Senate's vote in favor of lifting the UN arms embargo
against Bosnia-Herzegovina, NATO Secretary-General Willy Claes, on a private
visit to Athens on 27 July, said such a move would widen the Balkan conflict,
international agencies reported. In such a case, he said, "the United Nations
would lose its credibility" and 50,000 peacekeepers would be needed. "There is
no military solution, negotiations are the only solution," Claes was quoted as
saying. Government Spokesman Evangelos Venizelos the same day criticized the
Senate vote, AFP reported. He said the war in Bosnia must be solved by
long-term political and diplomatic means. Venizelos added that Bosnian Serb
leader Radovan Karadzic should not be excluded from the peace process, despite
being indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former
Yugoslavia, saying Karadzic has to remain a party to any talks seeking a
settlement for Bosnia. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave